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    Coronavirus - advice and information for recreational boaters

    Guidance for boaters (updated 20/10/20)

    Government Guidance

    The Government has announced new measures to suppress the virus and keep the number of infections down and it has emphasised that it is critical for everybody to observe the following key behaviours:

    • HANDS - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
    • FACE - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
    • SPACE - Stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings or increasing ventilation indoors).

    RYA return to boating strategy

    The RYA has published a considerable amount of detailed information to support its “Return to Boating” strategy across the boating community.  The RYA has also published updated FAQ for clubs, classes and RYA recognised training centres. 

    In the Home Countries, the RYA return to boating strategy may be at different stages dependant on how the devolved administrations assess the threat. People who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the guidance provided by their administrations and in the country specific links that follow further below.

    1. Our guidance

    Covid-19 preventative measures are vital in keeping you, your family and others safe and to minimise pressure on frontline services. The RYA will continue to support the National effort to control the spread of Covid-19 and assist members of the RYA family with any variations that might develop at a local level.  We support the Government’s desire to return to normality in a measured way and we recognise that we have a role to play by providing guidance to the RYA community on the application of the 2020 regulations.

    2. Our approach is considerate and conservative

    Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.

    Conservative: help to minimise incident and accidents by taking an extra cautious approach to your boating.

    Our guidance on safe boating remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan; we advise boaters to think carefully about these factors.  The RNLI and the RYA have also worked in collaboration to produce joint safety guidance to help ensure that this summer is as safe as it can be.

    Coronavirus regulations

    The regulations enable the Government and devolved administrations to respond to the serious and imminent threat to public health which is posed by the incidence and spread of the virus.  

    While guidance sets out how Governments expect people should behave, the regulations set out how people must behave and it is the regulations (rather than the guidance) that may be enforced within the law.

    The regulations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are now significantly diverse but are still aimed at controlling the virus. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK and read the more detailed guidance on the RYA Home Country pages referred to below and which is relevant to boating in the Home Counties. 

    Recreational boating in England

    On 14 October 2020, a local COVID alert levels system consisting of three tiers – medium, high and very high – was introduced in England.

    This page sets out the details of the different levels and you can check the local COVID alert level in your local area to see which level applies to you.

    The number of people you can interact with and in what settings varies with the alert levels.  

    You can stay overnight away from your home on a boat, but you you should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK if you are resident in a very-high alert level area or avoid staying overnight in a very-high alert level area if you are resident elsewhere.

    You should also try to avoid travelling outside the very-high alert level area you are in or entering a very-high alert level area, other than for things like work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if you are travelling through as part of a longer journey.

    It may be difficult to socially distance during car journeys so avoid travelling with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practise social distancing. The Government provides further guidance on car sharing and when travelling on public transport, you are legally required to wear a face covering.

    The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) states that where Government guidelines or advice suggest that the public should or should not act in specific ways, failure to comply with such guidelines or advice is not an offence unless it is specifically covered by the regulations. For example, it is not an offence to fail to comply with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household.  However, as the Government acts to keep the virus under control and to get the economy going again, we may expect that much of the guidance will be underpinned by the regulations. 

    Recreational boating in Scotland

    Updated guidance available at the Return to Boating page of the RYA Scotland website continues to provide support and detailed guidance across all forms of boating.

    Follow the RYA Scotland website for up to date information in Scotland.

    Recreational Boating in Northern Ireland

    The Department of Health has released up-to-date guidance on its restrictions and public health advice.

    The purpose of this guidance is to provide clear information and advice for the public on (a) the restrictions in law on movement and activities during the pandemic and (b) what you can and should do to limit the spread of COVID-19.

    More information from RYA Northern Ireland can be found here.

    Recreational Boating in Wales

    For the latest information, please visit the RYA Cymru Wales Return to Boating Wales pages.

    UK canals and rivers

    The majority of Canal & River Trust (CRT) navigations are now open with a few exceptions. 

    Guidance on Environment Agency waterways was last updated on 2 August 2020.   

    Recreational boating abroad

    The FCO has updated its global advisory against 'all but essential' travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers.  Find out which countries are exempt.    

    The European Union has set up a new website and a mobile app where you can see if travel is possible to each member state, the requirements of each destination, and other information to answer travellers’ questions. Go to Re-open EU for travel information and guidelines for each destination.

    Noonsite provides a considerable amount of information that may help recreational boaters abroad and its Covid-19 document has guidance as well as links to all the latest developments.   

    Noonsite has also produced a mapping feature on its website which can be accessed from the small blue icon on the right hand side of the Noonsite screen.

    Entering or returning to the UK

    Coronavirus regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days on entering or returning to the UK and it applies to all travel to England, by train, ferry, coach, air or any other route.

    Before your arrival in the UK, you must complete a passenger locator form. You must present these details on your arrival in England. This applies to both visitors and UK residents. There are a small number of groups of people who are exempt.

    However, the government is satisfied that it is now safe to ease these measures in England and you may not have to self-isolate when you arrive if you are returning from one of the countries or territories listed here. That is because these countries or territories are:

    • covered by the travel corridor exemption;
    • within the common travel area (Ireland, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man);
    • British overseas territories.

    However, you will still need to self-isolate if you visited or made a transit stop in a country that is not on the list in the 14 days before your return to England. 

    In Scotland and unless you are arriving from an exempted country or work in an exempted sector, residents and visitors will:

    • need to provide journey and contact details when travelling to Scotland
    • not be allowed to leave the place you are staying for the first 14 days they are in Scotland except in very limited situations.

    The Scottish regulations apply to people who live in Scotland and who are returning from outside Scotland, as well as to people visiting Scotland. These measures apply to international travel into Scotland irrespective of the point of entry into the UK.

    In Northern Ireland the travel regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days if you return to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless you are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium risk country or territory that is exempt.

    The CTA includes the following places, and only applies if you were there for 14 days or more:

    • England, Scotland and Wales
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Channel Islands
    • Isle of Man

    If you have been in the CTA for the last 14 days before entering Northern Ireland you do not need to complete the form or self-isolate.

    Further travel advice for Northern Ireland is provided here.

    In Wales, this guidance is provided for people travelling from outside of the UK.  It is for people arriving directly in Wales and for those arriving at a port elsewhere in the UK and then travelling on to Wales. 

    International recreational vessel arrivals

    Attention is drawn to the following requirements for those arriving at a UK port on recreational vessels from overseas. 

    Unless exempt, all international recreational maritime arrivals entering the UK will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival into the UK. This self-isolation can be completed on the vessel if arrivals choose to do so. These rules apply to both UK residents and visitors. 

    All international recreational maritime vessels arriving in the UK, apart from those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man (the Common Travel Area/CTA), must complete a mandatory Passenger Locator Form.   

    To get in touch

    Should RYA members require any advice related to the guidance on this page please contact the RYA Cruising Team on +44 (0) 23 8060 4233 (please have your membership number to hand when you call) or email (please include your membership number in your email).

    For other enquiries, call the RYA on +44 (0) 23 8060 4100. 

    Page updated: 20 October 2020

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